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Overview of Electrical Injuries

by Daniel P. Runde, MD

Injuries can result from spontaneous atmospheric electricity (lightning injuries) or generated electricity, such as household or industrial electrical currents (electrical injuries). Electrical current passing through the body generates heat, which burns and destroys tissues. Burns can affect internal tissues as well as the skin. An electrical shock can short-circuit the body’s own electrical systems, causing nerves to stop transmitting impulses or to transmit impulses erratically. Abnormal impulse transmission can affect the

  • Muscles, causing them to contract violently

  • Heart, causing it to stop beating (cardiac arrest)

  • Brain, causing seizures, loss of consciousness, or other abnormalities